Knowing full well that Cape Central's run defense held the Knights to 105 yards last year and knowing that his team did have some success throwing the ball, Farmington coach Mike Thebeau said he'll stick with the run tonight.
And to that, the Tigers say: Bring it on.
Farmington (8-1) and Central (5-4) will match their strengths in a 7 p.m. Class 4A, District 1 game at Houck Stadium. And the strongest will survive to play next Wednesday in the state playoffs.
"We're a running football team," said Thebeau, whose team runs the option out of the wishbone formation. "We've got to run the football. That's what we've won eight games with."
That's just fine with the Tigers, last year's district champs.
Central, which has played a tougher schedule than Farmington, has held runners to 3.8-yards per carry this season. Last year, Central beat Farmington 17-0 in a game that was decided in the fourth quarter.
"I think we can give them some problems," Central coach Lawrence Brookins said. "We've got good team speed. If all they're going to do is run, run, run, that's a good thing."
But Brookins isn't buying that the Knights will totally abandon the passing game like they did for three quarters last year.
"I'm guessing they will try to get something on us early," Brookins said. "It's not their style, but maybe a trick play or a quick long pass to get us on our heels a little bit."
Strong up front
Farmington boasts a physical offensive and defensive line and a couple of solid running backs. Dallas Bryant (6-foot-2, 180 pounds) leads the Knights with 717 yards, averaging 7.5 yards per carry. Fullback Michael Hahn is also a threat with 600 yards and five yards per carry.
"I think we're more physical up front and hopefully we'll play better against them than we did last year," Thebeau said.
Defensively, the Knights played very well a year ago. The Tigers managed 99 rushing yards and just 59 passing yards.
But Central has better athletes on the offensive side of the ball this year. And the offense has started to click, as evidenced by the Tigers' 48-14 win over Perryville last week. It was the first time Central scored at least 48 points in four years.
"I feel real confident," said center/defensive lineman Justin Wells. "The past two games, it feels like we're putting everything together."
Suddenly, an offense that sputtered for much of the season is looking formidable. The Tigers have two running backs, Marcus Klund (533) and Monroe Hicks (511), with more than 500 yards and a quarterback who is approaching 1,000 passing yards. Mitch Craft, who has completed 68 of his 112 passes, has thrown for 899 yards.
Farmington, meanwhile, is coming off a 37-31 win over Sikeston and a 35-0 victory over Perryville. The Knights' only loss was 28-13 to New Madrid County Central. NMCC knocked off Central 28-20.